MATRYOSHKA: Uncovering Your Many Selves Through Writing

MATRYOSHKA: Uncovering Your Many Selves Through Writing

This creative collection contains 20 of Joan Leof’s published personal essays with 10 prompts for journaling or creative writing accompanying each essay. Spark your own self-reflection and journal writing with these therapeutic essays!

These essays contain light topics such as romantic love, close family ties, and the appreciation of both nature and city living. They also explore heavier topics such as divorce, depression, abortion and aging. Your own self-reflection, writing and personal growth will be fostered with the help of the essays and journal prompts provided in MATRYOSHKA: Uncovering Your Many Selves Through Writing.

About the author: Joan Leof has been facilitating journal workshops for groups and individuals ranging in age from 9 to 90s for over four decades. A former English teacher and Communications Consultant, she has written for major educational and medical institutions and published a memoir called Fatal If Swallowed: Reclaiming Creativity and Hope Along the Uncharted Path. 

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“The Russian Matryoshka doll opens in half, right in the middle of the abdomen. Inside her is another doll that opens in half. Inside that one, another. Many dolls open in half until there are no more. The innermost remains whole.

These personal essays and questions will help you uncover the many selves inside of you, and your own process of birthing and burying them, as I have mine.” ~ Joan Leof

Here is a quick glance at the table of contents in this creative collection of personal essays with reflective writing prompts:

1. A Dream, Like a Strad, Grows Richer With Time
2. Trees I’ve Loved
3. Bead by Bead
4. Because You’re Too Damn Serious
5. Between East and West: The Two Lives of Ravi the Sikh
6. Confetti and Ashes
7. Third Time’s the Charm
8. Dead Animals on the Dinner Table
9. The Tiny Doll Inside My Matryoshka Doll
10. A Grandma by Any Other Name
11. Center City Philadelphia: My Urban ‘Walden’
12. View from the 16th Floor
13. Walking Tall
14. How to Fully Embrace the Hype of Aging
15. Things My Mother Taught Me
16. Ocean Legacies
17. If These Breasts Could Talk: A Woman’s Stroll Down Mammary Lane
18. Take This Body – As Soon As I’m Done With It
19. Decades After Surviving the Holocaust, ‘Hope’ Finds Enduring Friendship
20. They Never Really Twinned – Then Came a Nephew

PRAISE for MATRYOSHKA: Uncovering Your Many Selves Through Writing 


"Joan Leof is a gifted and courageous essayist , with each nuanced piece giving rise to a surprising range of journal prompts representing different aspects of the self. This book is a pleasure to read and a rich resource for a self-directed writing journey." KATHLEEN ADAMS 


"Oh my ... I enjoyed each of these essays ... and was trying to read them slowly so I could truly savor them. You touched on so many issues, some of which could be viewed as a bit "prickly," but your openness made them incredibly rich. Loved them all ... marriage, cancer, loss, abortion, urban living, aging. I love the reflections, as they cover the gamut of questions that could come up with each essay. I shared your book with my journaling group, and writing group. They were all impressed, and encouraged that they, too, might one day put a book together." SUE MEYN  


"Joan's book is a masterpiece of words and wisdom for motivating me to uncover, discover and recover more of my true selves. In addition to sharing her stories, she gives us awesome reflective prompts for diving deeper to retrieve my own pearls of wisdom. I love flipping through this book to find exactly what I need to read at any particular moment and what I need to write, write, write on about next." MARI MCCARTHY 


"This book redefines the memoir essay genre, with thought-provoking and gentle questions that allow the reader to participate in an inner-going journey. With humor, grief, tenderness, and surprise, Joan Leof offers poignant personal snapshots, and encourages the reader to contemplate them as parables or prompts, to write a few of his/her own. There is almost certainly something in every story for everyone, as Leof's stories are beautiful threads of a universal human experience, and her list of questions following each story seem to be designed to tug a few strings within the reader's heart and experience. Perfect for self-reflection exercises, or just plain fun. I enjoyed interviewing Joan Leof on my podcast "JournalTalk", where she described her inspiration and experience of making this book, and shared an exercise from its pages." NATHAN OHREN


"Joan Leof's essays are a pleasure to read. I'd be tempted to say "therapeutic" if it didn't sound so medicinal, which these essays are anything but. They are instead so "health-giving" and charming that reading a few at random is a great way to start the day -- or relax after a trying day. Leof writes like a genuine human being; no artifice, no calculation, no fear of being who she is. A model for us all! I won't be reading this book just once, but regularly." CEILDH 


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